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Tomato, Basil & Farro Soup

*Post by Angela.

You guys are probably pretty sick of me writing about farro. We, on the other hand, are not sick of eating it. Farro is delicious and adaptable, and this is OUR blog, so there you go. Today's recipe comes from an interesting quarter: acclaimed movie critic Roger Ebert, who, even though he can no longer eat, still writes about eating eloquently enough to bring me to tears. Just last year, Mr. Ebert took his love for food to the next level and wrote a cookbook about all the wonderful things you can do with your rice cooker entitled, "The Pot and How To Use It," which includes a recipe for this tasty soup. Funnily enough, since I only have a very small rice cooker, I had to adapt and make it on the stove. Doesn't matter - still turned out wonderfully, healthful, filling, and aptly summery.



List of ingredients:
  • 2 cups of farro
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 1/2 lbs of tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese

First, I rinsed farro in a strainer under cold running water. I filled a big pot full of water, added a ton of salt, then brought it to a boil and poured the farro in. I partially covered the pot and cooked for about 40 minutes, or until tender, and then drained it and set it aside.



While waiting for the farro to cook, I brought another pot of water to a boil and prepared an ice bath. Friends, have you ever attempted to peel a tomato straight off the vine? I have. It wasn't pretty. Let me show you the easier way. First, I de-stemmed my tomatoes and cut little crosses into the bottom of them.



Then I plopped them into the boiling water for 30 seconds. I scooped them out with a quickness and plunged them into the ice bath for about 3-5 minutes. Ta-da! Tomatoes will now peel beautifully. I then diced them up, making sure to keep all the juices.



I heated the oil in a pot over medium heat, then cooked the onion for about 6-8 minutes, until soft and golden. I added the garlic and cooked an additional 2 minutes.



I added the tomatoes (with their juices) to the pot along with the basil (freshly picked from my new basil plant, Bonnie McBasilton), seasoned with salt and pepper to taste, then covered and cooked an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Look at how beautiful that is! Like a delicious garden.



I decided to change it up a little, and pureed about half the mixture in my food processor, then added it back into the pot.



I added the farro, pepper flakes (also a modification from the original), and the broth, then covered and cooked an additional 10 minutes.



I served it up with a little grated parmesan on top and enjoyed a very tasty, very satisfying bowl of soup. Two thumbs up, Mr. Ebert!


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